The all-new 2013 Lexus ES350 is the six-generation of Lexus’ most popular luxury sedan and the new ES 300h with Lexus Hybrid Drive marks the first time the popular model benefits from the hybrid system. It features the signature Lexus spindle grille, a progressive new design and enhanced handling. It is sure to impress new and loyal Lexus ES consumers.
The ES 300h features a 2.5 liter, DOHC, all aluminum, in-line four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine with variable valve timing on the intake (VVT-i). This new, low friction engine utilizes a sophisticated power management system and high compression ratio (12.5:1) to increase its overall efficiency. It is equipped with an electric water pump, electric rack & pinion power steering system and an integrated Lexus Hybrid Drive System comprising an electric motor/generator. As a result the engine does not require any accessory belts thus helping to improve fuel economy and overall reliability. The gasoline engine generates 156hp at 5,700rpm with 156lb.ft. of torque at 4,500rpm. Combined with the Lexus Hybrid Drive total horsepower is bumped up to a total of 200hp. With this gasoline/hybrid engine EPA mileage ratings are 40mpg/city and 39mpg/highway. After more than 425 miles of city and highway driving, I received, according to the trip computer, 38.8 combined mpg. That’s good news for a mid-size luxury sedan.
This high-tech gasoline/hybrid engine is mated to a six-speed sequential-shift automatic Electronically Controlled Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i), turning the front wheels that provides enhanced driving performance, which I wasn’t expecting, including very smooth, imperceptible shifts.
Further enhancing the fun-to-drive experience is the Drive Mode Selector dial located on the left side of the center console. Three modes are available-Normal mode provides a blend of performance and efficiency that is best for everyday driving, Eco mode favors fuel economy, and Sport mode increase powertrain and steering responsiveness. When in the Eco or Normal mode the left gauge features a hybrid power monitor and when you change to Sport mode, you’ll see a full tachometer. It is a perfect way to see how well you are saving fuel in Eco or Normal mode, and the available and current RPMs in Sport mode. There is also an EV button that allows short distance driving in all-electric drive from the hybrid battery pack. The other button is to turn the traction control/vehicle stability control off/on.
I enjoyed the ride in any of the modes thanks to the fully independent suspension system. Up front is a MacPherson strut setup, gas-charged shocks, an anti-roll bar and opposite-wound coil springs that help with straight-line stability at high speeds. The revised rear suspension features dual-link MacPherson struts and an anti-roll bar to keep body lean to a minimum. The new rear suspension geometry and improved shock absorber damping characteristics further enhance ride comfort when traveling over poorly paved road surfaces. Increasing my confidence when attacking curving roads in the Sport mode is the 13.8:1 steering gear ratio that give a more responsive and direct steering feel with a great on-center touch. Giving back more fun-to-drive excitement is the increased body rigidity that is achieved through the use of more lightweight, high-tensile strength steel, added bracing and more spot welds. Airflow around and underneath the new ES 300h are underbody panels, a front spoiler, deep side extensions, a rear spoiler and rear diffuser. It also helps improving stability at high speeds, increases fuel economy and reduces drag. The co-efficient of drag is just 0.27. The new ‘L’ design motif of the 300h is reflected in the LED daytime running lamps and combination rear LED lamps. Foglamps are integrated into the sculpted lower front bumper fascia. The ES 300h also feature an exclusive rear design with hidden exhaust pipe for a clean look. Other details specific to the hybrid include blue badging and exclusive 17X7 aluminum alloy wheels wrapped with Bridgestone 215/55R17 inch Turanza low-rolling resistance all-season tires.
Slowing the all-new ES300h down from speed are large four-wheel disc brakes that are regenerative making electric power that is transferred back into the battery pack. Up front are 11.6 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers while in the rear are 11 inch solid discs clamped with single-piston calipers. Keeping control of the car during severe braking situations, like when driving on wet or slick pavement are standard ABS, EBD and BA. Standard Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Control systems work with the braking systems to ensure the car stops quickly and straight.
The interior cabin of the all-new ES 300h is pure Lexus luxury, comfort, connectivity and safety. It features enhanced sightlines and visibility, logically placed controls, and new cabin materials that express a high level of craftsmanship. I really appreciated the new stitched leather dashboard and door trim plus the luxurious dark bamboo wood trim. The modern interior has been designed to give the consumer a sense of openness and security for up to five passengers. Great rear seat legroom and knee room are the hallmark of the redesigned, more spacious passenger cabin. Rear headroom is increased by 0.8 inches, knee room is increased by 2.8 inches and legroom is lengthened by 4.1 inches. Additional foot room below the front seats further enhances rear passenger comfort. The newly sculpted 10-way power adjustable driver/front passenger seat is so comfortable and very supportive. The sporty, tilt/telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel feels great in your hands and has a new angle reduced from 24-degrees to 22-degrees for a more natural control position. The wheel has redundant buttons for the audio system, trip computer and cruise control. The cockpit features a separate electroluminescent instrument cluster and separate operation zones to help keep your eyes on the road. The instrument panel with its long, layered look, places the optional 8-inch VGA navigation screen into a separate, centered backed in space to keep the sun’s glare to a minimum. Below the center display is a self-illuminating LED analog clock. All of the dials, buttons and switches are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime driving.
The second-generation Remote Touch Interface (RTI) allows you to operate the climate, audio, phone controls, optional navigation system and more. The screen menus are selected with a controller (like a computer mouse) located on the center console. RTI also reduces eye and hand movement, helping to decrease effort and distraction. It takes a little to get used to but it is really neat and intuitive. Lexus Enform provides seamless connectivity with Bing search, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, Pandora, Yelp and Facebook Places through compatible smart phones. The standard Lexus Premium Sound system features eight-speakers with automatic sound leveler, in-dash CD player, USB/iPod connectivity, and an integrated SiriusXM satellite radio receiver.
Other standard features inside includes NuLuxe seating and piano black trimmed interior, electrochromic auto-dimming rearview mirror, electrochromic heated outside mirrors, one-touch open/close sunroof, automatic dual-zone climate control system Bluetooth technology, USB audio plug, power windows all express up/down, power door locks, Lexus Personalization settings, carpeted floor mats, four-grab handles, dual map lamps, push button start/stop, intermittent windshield wipers/washers, dual lighted vanity mirrors, dual cupholders on the center console with a padded armrest and deep storage box, rear pull-down armrest with dual cupholders, remote trunk release and remote fuel filler door. My test ES 300h came with the optional HID headlights, heated front seats, Hard Disk Drive Navigation system with backup camera, voice command. The Premium Package aboard included Lexus Memory system for the driver’s seat, outside mirrors, and the power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry with entry linked memory, leather trimmed shift knob and wood/leather steering wheel, cargo net and trunk mat. I think that’s enough to keep any luxury sedan consumer pleased.
Standard safety systems include five-three-point safety belts with front/rear outboard seat pretensioners/load limiters, 10-airbags including dual front airbags, dual front knee airbags, front/rear seated-mounted side impact airbags, side curtain airbags front/rear, Smart Stop Technology, front/rear crumple zones, side door beams, theft-deterrent system, Safety Connect, automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, emergency SOS button, auto on/off headlamps, daytime running lamps, and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Driving the all-new 2013 Lexus ES 300h was fun and sometimes exciting when in the Sport mode. It gave me a smooth, quiet ride, plenty of comfort, luxury and connectivity with way too high mpg compared to regular gasoline mid-size luxury sport sedans. It is another Lexus winner!
COPYRIGHT: 2013: HARVEY SCHWARTZ